The Hillmans Annual Xmas Tome v.2003
Part of Our Xmas Greetings Feature at
Amazing! End of November, there’s hardly any snow on the ground, but  Xmas is still coming. Time to set myself in front of the computer to expound Season’s Greetings to our families and friends.

Do I start each year’s missive with “a hectic year” for this household? Well, it hasn’t changed. So, grab yourself a strong drink ‘cos here we go again!

Oldest Hillman offspring, Ja-On is finishing his second and last year in a massage therapy course at Wellington College where he is receiving top grades.  From all reports by his patients, he is very professional and very adept at his work. His little boy, Soulin is a very mature 5-year-old. In the mornings, Ja takes him to his daycare at the YMCA beside Portage Place. He loves the gym and swimming facilities there. In the afternoons, Soulin attends kindergarten at Laura Secord French Immersion School. He is a bright little fella and keeps his grandpa and grandma on their toes. These two bachelors are living in Winnipeg but come home most weekends.

Younger son Robin graduated with a 4 year B.Sc. Honours degree in Computer Science in May. It was an exciting day for us as one of the perks of Bill being a professor at Brandon University was the opportunity to present Robin with his degree at Convocation. Robin was then assigned his own office and worked on an integrated GPS satellite mapping project for the Geography, Geology and Computer Departments at the university from early spring until the end of September. Hoping to see a bit of the world before starting a career in earnest he became a vagabond in October, and will be backpacking across Europe until Dec. 18. Trust the kid to come home for the presents! We were quite excited to hear of his adventures with the English band who backed us on our last English recording (they are now known as Raised on Rusks but were formerly called Desperado). Meeting them was a great thrill for Robin as he plays drums and bass on our shows and also plays with G.B. Peech and the Sidebanders, a blues band.

Baby China has grown up, and will be 18 come Dec. 5th.  She started first year pre-med at BU in September, and is pretty much acing this first term.  China and I drive to “school” together in the mornings. Since Robin’s car is available, she usually drives herself home when her classes finish around 4 p.m. Kind of nice not to have to worry about chauffeuring these days. She is aiming for optometry at Waterloo University in the next couple years. Music is still an important part of her life. She has performed with her harp, bagpipes and piano at several weddings and shows and will do a caleidh and a concert with us at the end of November.

Bill is taking a hiatus to devote more time for writing this winter after a tremendous teaching load in 2002/2003. He assumed a full professor’s teaching load plus four additional computer courses in the math/science dept. of the BU education faculty. Kept his 250 students pretty busy creating webpages, electronic portfolios, web-blogs, and in developing tech teaching skills to use when they go into their own classrooms. In June, the university sent him on 10 day PD/research trip to Tarzana, California. He was doing research on a subject close to his heart - Edgar Rice Burroughs, at Danton Burroughs’ invitation.  He was thrilled when Danton, grandson of ERB, decided to open storage vaults (sealed since 1979) holding never-before-seen treasures spanning a time period from the US Civil War to WWII and beyond. Can you imagine the thousands of pictures, tapes and photocopies he brought home? Since then, he’s been busy collating the new material for articles, book manuscripts and the thousands of Web pages he maintains. Bill continues to share the Burroughs Web pages with the world through his weekly online ERBzin-e. He is planning to return on another of his regular visits to California in the new year to carry on his research and work on TV and film documentaries, etc.

Toward the end of August, Bill and I took a road trip to the University of Louisville, Kentucky, where the annual world conference for hundreds of Edgar Rice Burroughs fans was being held. We haven’t had quality time together for many years, and it was a wonderful trip for us. Once a year, we get to renew acquaintances. It was especially enjoyable this year as Danton, Mary and Stacy Burroughs (Danton’s stepmom and step-sister) were all in attendance. Bill assisted Dan with his presentation of rare home movies and slides at the Ekstrom Rare Books Library Auditorium. Two other highlights of this trip were the awarding of the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award by the Burroughs Bibliophiles Board to Bill for all his dedication to the memory of ERB . . . and the celebration of our 37th  wedding anniversary, at a bistro featuring a live blues band.

In Sept, I started my second year of teaching at BU with the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) program. I teach level 2 writing every morning.  This term, I have 8 students (great t/s ratio!), from China, Mexico, Japan and Korea. The term ends in 2 weeks, then we start with new students on Jan. 5th. On Tues. and Thurs. evenings, I still work with immigrants in the provincial ESL program. This year, I have 14 students, all but two are from Ethiopia. The other two students are from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Our last class for this year is reserved for making unbaked cheesecake. I HAVE to get some cooking in there!

I DO miss the big kitchen at Soo’s and visiting with the customers, BUT…it’s wonderful to have time for the family, friends and myself. Although we are no longer involved in karate, I am still involved with qi-gong and tai-chi. Have to slow down the march towards old age somehow ;)

Music still plays a big part in our lives. We manage to do a number of concerts through the year and Bill and Robin jam every week with friends at Ken Daniels’ Cantina. I manage to join them on the nights I’m not teaching.

I see some of you have had to refill your cuppas. So, this may be a good time for me to close down for another year.

May your cups be always full, of good fortune, good health and happiness!

The Hillman Clan

Sue-On and Soulin
Watch the Dragon Boat Races
on the Assiniboine River

China-Li preparing for a harp concert
Takes a break for quality time
with Atticus, her Great Pyrenees

Soulin prepares for his Halloween adventure
Ja-On and pal Angela 
Last-minute adjustments on the warrior costume

Bill and Robin
Prof Bill presenting Robin with his BU Honours Degree
2003 Spring Convocation ~ Centennial Concert Hall
China and Her Harp Ensemble

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